Organizers of the first-ever Alberta Indigenous Games have more on their minds than just athletics this week. The theme of the inaugural event is "Reclaiming Our Youth."
"The Edmonton Native Basketball Association has been working to empower youth in Edmonton especially and in Alberta through sports," said games coordinator Martha Campiou. "So we took on the challenge to make these games happen for youth."
The games were conceived after the North American Indigenous Games – scheduled to be held in Milwaukee – were cancelled. The games’ focus on culture, youth and athletics is part of the ‘Circle of Courage’ that elders are hoping will continue with the next generation.
"For our people there is a connection, the connection is with the mind, the spirit, the soul and the body," Campiou said.
The event kicked off on Sunday and features six days of competition in basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, track and field, archery and floor hockey.
"There’s a lot of people that take part in these track meets in the Indigenous Games now, and it’s a good thing because it shows when these athletes are given a chance they’ll take it," said Jordie Ermineskin, one of about 250 athletes registered for the event.
Most athletics are being hosted at Coronation Park and arena, along with a career fair and cultural pavilion at the Woodcroft Community Hall.
Closing ceremonies for the games will take place in Coronation Park on Thursday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m..
With files from Shane Jones.